Russia hit bottom on the Moon, while NASA astronauts lost a bag: biggest space flops of 2023
Space exploration has never been considered an easy task, given all the factors that create obstacles to humanity becoming an interplanetary species. Nevertheless, humanity has already achieved remarkable success, having visited the Moon, populated Mars with robots, and launched thousands of vehicles into Earth orbit and deep space.
Nevertheless, there are years that just don't seem to be meant for space victories. 2023, despite all the space achievements, can also be called a year of flops. The details are provided by Inverse.
Statistics show that every 25th rocket in the history of NASA has failed. In 2023, there were also many engineering mistakes.
Euclid drew a space doodle
The Euclid mission, which was launched in July 2022, has been in the works for a decade. The European Space Agency's (ESA) space telescope was supposed to make precise measurements of the shapes of galaxies up to 10 billion light-years away. It was also supposed to provide scientists with new data on invisible dark matter, looking for its gravitational influence on the shapes of galaxies and space itself.
However, after the launch, it turned out that the precision guidance sensor, which was supposed to be responsible for ensuring that the Euclid instrument focused on a specific target while observing the star field, was not working properly.
As a result, the image taken by the telescope in October was more artistic than scientific as Euclid appeared to have simply left its "autograph" on the starry sky.
Fortunately, there was no tragedy. A software update saved the expensive ESA mission.
A priceless container that cannot be opened
NASA spent 1.16 billion dollars on the OSIRIS-REx mission, which brought samples from the distant asteroid Bennu to Earth, but when it received a priceless gift from it back, it turned out that there was simply no way to open the container.
OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016 to see the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. It managed to successfully travel several years, land on the asteroid, capture priceless samples, and then take off and travel several years back again.
In any case, it was a fantastic mission, but it was spoiled by a fly in the ointment. When the capsule with the samples returned to Earth, it was immediately placed in a protective box to prevent the asteroid fragments from being exposed to the Earth's atmosphere. The box was, of course, equipped with all the necessary tools, but it turned out that two nuts on the capsule lid were stuck and could not be unscrewed. As of the end of 2023, engineers are developing a new tool that will help open the container.
Fortunately, in addition to the materials under the lid, some of the materials from Bennu are stuck to the outside of the capsule, so scientists have something to play with.
Astronauts lost a bag of tools in space
On November 1, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara worked for more than six hours in outer space, performing maintenance on the exterior of the International Space Station. Either they forgot where they were or just got overworked, but the result was that a new object ended up in Earth's orbit, and not just any object, but a bag of tools.
Now this bag has joined the more than 36,000 pieces of space debris orbiting the Earth at a speed of more than 27,000 kilometers per hour. The main thing is that it does not fall on anyone's head.
Virgin Orbit has failed and filed for bankruptcy
Virgin Orbit's founder Richard Branson was one of the first billionaires to sense the future popularity of commercial space tourism, founding Virgin Galactic in 2004. 13 years later, Virgin Orbit was spun off from Virgin Galactic. The company intended to provide services for launching small payloads using a rocket that would be picked up by an airplane, dropped, and then launched into the sky. In this way, the company sought to circumvent the need to create massive rockets but ultimately failed.
On January 9, 2023, Virgin Orbit failed to reach orbit due to an engine failure, and the company found itself in financial difficulty. This was followed by mass layoffs and then a bankruptcy filing.
In May, the company was liquidated and its remains were sold off for a fraction of their original value.
Voyager 2 lost contact
As of 2023, Voyager 2 was more than 19.7 billion kilometers away, so when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory accidentally sent it a message telling it to tilt its antenna two degrees away from Earth, it was found that the machine had stopped hearing NASA in the right part of the sky.
It seemed to be the end of the line after 46 years of "conversation" with the spacecraft, which had shown humanity the first large images of the icy giant planets Neptune and Uranus.
Fortunately, on August 4, NASA announced that they had managed to literally shout out to Voyager 2. To do this, they used radio antennas that are part of the Deep Space Network.
Scientists now expect Voyager 2 to continue sending data from outside our solar system until 2035.
Luna-25: Roscosmos, what is wrong with your face?
The aggressor country, which is ready to jump out of its pants to prove that it belongs to the civilized world after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has been actively torpedoing the topic of returning to the Moon in the media for a very long time.
But the famous masters from Roscosmos did everything wrong again. On August 10, the Luna-25 spacecraft was successfully launched, and 10 days later, it performed an unsuccessful orbital maneuver and committed "suicide" on the Moon, breaking a new bottom on the Earth's satellite.
It was especially gratifying to see India successfully landing its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft near the Moon's south pole on August 23.
Starship shows a 100-percent explosiveness level
On November 18, Musk's space company conducted a second attempt at a Starship test flight, which ended in a powerful explosion in the sky over Texas.
The super-heavy booster, the main stage of the launch vehicle, exploded shortly after it separated from the Starship spacecraft.
SpaceX believes that this was due to the self-destruction of the spacecraft's flight completion system, which blows up the rocket if it deviates from its course.
According to Musk's plan, Starship should become the ship that will deliver the first astronauts to Mars (approximately in 2025). But so far, two of the two tests of this rocket have ended in an explosion in 2023.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that a NASA astronaut lost tomatoes on the ISS. They were found only 8 months later.